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since 21/07/2003


Travelodge Doncaster Lakeside, Doncaster 04/04/2014

Not Quite a Belle, But Great for Rovers

Boots The Sanctuary Fresh Faced Purifying Wash 31/03/2014

The Sanctuary - Saving Face

Palmer's Daily Cleansing Gel 01/03/2014

Palmer's Daily Cleansing Gel - I Should Cocoa

Palmer's Daily Cleansing Gel The odd storm and some flooding aside, this winter hasn’t been too bad. I’m thinking in terms of temperature and snowfall here: as I spend a lot of time outdoors I’ve noticed that I’ve not suffered from chapped lips and dry skin like I frequently do in winter. Almost as soon as my plane landed at Ljubljana airport at the beginning of February, however – slap bang in the middle of a disastrous ice storm (an hour in the air circling the airport when you are desperate for a wee is no fun, I promise) – my “winter face” soon developed. Turning up at our home in Slovenia I remembered that I was out of face-wash and had forgotten to stock up at Luton Airport (such products are almost always cheaper in the UK). Fortunately my obsession with collecting free samples provided what I thought would be a temporary stop gap until I could go shopping: in fact, I’ve now found a product I want to use frequently. I would instinctively associate Palmer’s with moisturising cocoa butter products but would never have thought of looking for a cleansing product from the brand. This “Daily Cleansing Gel” follows the same branding as the moisturising products, labelled as it is “Cocoa Butter Formula with Vitamin E”. According to the packaging notes it is fragrance free and for sensitive skin. It contains aloe vera, peptides and Vitamin E. I managed several washes from the sample sachet which kept me going until I was able to go shopping but I wasn’t able to find this product in Slovenia. When I ...

Macek Rooms, Ljubljana 18/02/2014

A Kind of Macek

Macek Rooms, Ljubljana Cosy Kavarna Macek (Ciao's formatting does not allow me to use the correct spelling but it is pronounced "Ma-check") is one of Ljubljana's best known and best loved cafe-bars. Situated on Cankarjevo Nabrezje (though the rooms, or "sobe" in Slovene are officially on Krojaska ulica), the riverside on the old town side of Ljubljana, Macek occupies a prime location; the quaint medieval streets are just behind the cafe, while the famous Triple Bridge and the picturesque pink Franciscan church are just footsteps away along the embankment. A couple of years back, Macek Rooms opened. There are five rooms and one "apartment" to rent on the first and second floors of the building. Having seen photographs of the rooms I was quite tempted but the long opening hours of Macek put me off, especially for a summer stay because I suspected that there would be a lot of noise from all the bars in the vicinity into the early hours. When I recently had a mid morning flight out of Ljubljana on a Wednesday, I decided to give Macek a try under the belief that it would be much quieter in winter. Booking and Checking In I booked through Expedia and paid €61 (£50.31 at the time of booking) for a double room including breakfast and free wi-fi. When we arrived at the accommodation we were the only guests so we were given a larger family room which is intended for three people. Since the room size information listed on on Expedia does not reflect my experience of the rooms, I would advise potential ...

Long Player Late Bloomer - Ron Sexsmith 11/01/2014

Da Do Ron Wrong

Castle Park, Penrith 08/01/2014

Romantic Ruins

Aparthotel Stalowa 52, Warsaw 02/01/2014

Style and Steel - Much the Same Thing at Aparthotel Stalowa

Guerlain Mitsouko Eau de Toilette 01/01/2014

Mysterious Mitsouko

Guerlain Mitsouko Eau de Toilette 'Mitsouko' was launched by Guerlain way back in 1919 but was tweaked and re-launched a couple of years back; somehow that passed me by but a fantastic sales assistant in a local perfume store introduced me to the eau de toilette that quickly established itself as my current favourite. I had some money burning a hole in my purse and asked the assistant to recommend something spicy but a little bit different. Among the handful of ideas she came up with was 'Mitsouko': it's generally classified as a 'fruity chypre', a description that misses the mark in my opinion as, to my nose, this is a warm, slightly powdery and vaguely old-fashioned scent that, though it does have the woody greenness that characterises a the chypre fragrances, is more floral than fruity despite a distinctive hit of peach. It is thought that the name Mitsouko was inspired by a story by French author Claude Farrere. The story is set in Japan and the action takes place during the Russo-Japanese wars; the story describes an illicit romance between a British army officer and Mitsouko, the wife of Japanese Emperor Togo. As both men go to battle, Mitsouko waits quietly at home, not knowing which will be the one to return safely to become her companion. The fragrance seems to me to reflect the story quite nicely; though this is a beautiful scent it is at the same time understated and modest. It has an air of formality I associate with the Japanese but a mysterious side that comes from the overall blend of notes ...

Russell Hobbs 18770 Futura 22/11/2013

The Kettle that Needs a Volume Control

Kokeb Ethiopian Cuisine, London 12/11/2013

Kokeb - An Authentic Ethiopian Experience

Russell Hobbs 18540-70 07/11/2013

Basic Boiler

Dick Bruna Huis, Utrecht 01/11/2013

Hangin' Out At Miffy's Place

Guest House Martin, Ljubljana 19/10/2013

Guest House Martin - Cheap as Chips But Not For Everyone

This Boy - Alan Johnson 30/09/2013

How a Mother Made a Man

This Boy - Alan Johnson In 1957, the then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan told a meeting of fellow Conservatives that most of the country had ‘never had it so good’. Alan Johnson’s moving autobiography "This Boy" describes life for a family that did not share in Britain’s widespread prosperity. The conditions in which the one time Labour Home Secretary grew up would have shocked many people even at the time: no electricity, damp rooms, a cooker on the landing, for a long time no living room, and emptying buckets of urine in the morning because it had been too cold to go outside to the toilet during the night. This is no tale of Victorian poverty and squalor – this is 1960s west London, the London of the notorious unscrupulous landlord Peter Rachman, of race riots and where violence was commonplace. What is quite remarkable is that Alan Johnson, who would later be the choice of many to lead his party, did not grow up a bitter class warrior, though his childhood experiences no doubt helped shape his social conscience and ability to relate to others from all classes and backgrounds. "This Boy" is much more than an account of a poverty stricken childhood; in that respect it was not unusual, even if it was markedly different from that of his peers, not just in his neighbourhood but at the grammar school his mother fought to get him a place at. The book is a touching tribute to Johnson’s mother Lily, a woman who suffered most of her adult life with ill health, and whose only mistake was to marry Steve ...

Vanja Dujc Extra Virgin Olive Oil Couvee 12/09/2013

Vanja Dujc Olive Oil - No Longer Slovenia's Little Secret

Vanja Dujc Extra Virgin Olive Oil Couvee Back in the 1980s a Sunday lunch with my family was not complete without a bottle of Ljutomer Riesling. Since then the gastronomic produce of Slovenia has made little impact on the international culinary scene but that looks set to change. This is partly due to the likes of Oliver Muldoon whose company Lovenia is introducing UK restaurants and bars to some of the excellent products available. Oliver isn't alone: Piran Salt, produced in salt flats on the country's Adriatic coast, is now available to buy from Selfridges and is also used in Jamie Oliver's restaurants, while Waitrose has been selling Puklavec & Friends Sauvignon Blanc in its stores, a crisp white wine from Styria in eastern Slovenia for a couple of years now. When I first started visiting Slovenia in 2004 it didn't take me long to notice that the Slovenians, particularly in the east of the country, love their pumpkin seed oil. In late summer and early autumn you'll see fields of broken up pumpkins, already plundered for their seeds which are put through a press for the oil to be extracted. The oil is used to dress salads, to coat pasta and even as a delicious topping for ice cream. It occasionally crossed my mind that Slovenians weren't producing olive oil. It seemed to me that the hot dry western part of the country would be perfect for growing olives: this region is well known for its delicious air dried hams and rich red wines so it seemed natural that olives would also be growing there. It turns out I was ...
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